Translating Eurydice (2017)


Translating Eurydice

Friday, 27 October 2017

University of East London (Stratford Campus).

A one-day conference on myth in the twenty-first century organised by the Centre for Myth Studies, University of Essex and Psychosocial Studies, University of East London.

Academic papers by Amber Jacobs, Anita Klujber, and Carol Leader.

Presentations by Tom de Freston and Kiran Millwood Hargrave (on OE, a transmedia retelling of the myth), and Ghost Jam (performing Beyond Eurydice)

Register here: Eventbrite

Quick Links: Location | Timetable | Abstracts


Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), Orpheus and Eurydice (marble, 1893) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (public domain image)

The Centre for Myth Studies (University of Essex) provides a forum for those working on myth in the UK and across the globe. It exists to raise awareness of the importance of myth within the contemporary world and to promote its interdisciplinary study through international conferences, publications and other forms of academic discourse.

We are pleased to announce a one-day conference to explore the fate of Eurydice translated into our divided, twenty-first century world. Translation is understood in the broad sense of the transference of mythic material across cultures and epochs; it includes, but is not limited to, the rewriting of texts. More specifically, the conference sets out to explore how one particular myth has been adapted to the challenges and traumas of linguistic and cultural displacement in an era of local and global dislocation. How has Eurydice fared in the contemporary world of domestic politics and mass migration? Is she perceived as powerless or has she become newly empowered, freed from the embrace of Orpheus?

The conference runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The programme is organised as a series of plenary papers in the morning and performance sessions after lunch. Speakers will approach the myth of Eurydice from various perspectives, ranging from its literary and artistic reception to its application in the field of psychoanalysis.

There is no charge for attendance, but, to avoid disappointment, those wishing to attend are strongly advised to register in advance as space is limited.

The Stratford campus of the University of East London is a short walk from the Stratford and Stratford International rail stations. It is served by the Jubilee and Central Underground lines, the DLR, and various bus routes. By road, the campus is accessible via the A12, the A13, and the A406 London circular.

For queries about the conference, email: or Angie Voela (

To register, visit Eventbrite.


Room US4.15, University Square Stratford,
1 Salway Road, Stratford, London E15 1NF

Rail: Stratford, Maryland.
Underground: Stratford.

Further travel details here:


Morning session: academic papers (30 mins) with questions and comments (15 mins)

10.00     Arrival and welcome: Leon Burnett (Essex), Angie Voela (UEL)

10.15     Carol Leader, Eurydice: Dying to Live

11.00     Coffee Break

11.15     Amber Jacobs, On Following and Being Followed: Walking and Looking with Eurydice

12.00     Anita Klujber, “Eurydice as Kore”: Queen of the Underword – a Mythic Geography of Poetic Language

12.45     Break for lunch

Afternoon session: performance and presentation (90 mins each)

14.15     Tom de Freston and Kiran Millwood Hargrave, OE
Film, introduction to the graphic novel, and Tom de Freston and Kiran Millwood Hargrave in conversation with Leon Burnett.

15.45     Coffee break

16.00     Ghost Jam, Beyond Eurydice
Presentation by Lyndon Davies and company.

17.30     Summing up


Amber Jacobs
On Following and Being Followed: Walking and Looking with Eurydice

This paper attempts to theorise the structural relation between the follower and the followed. Using Eurydice and Orpheus as a model I make a reading via psychoanalysis, feminist philosophy and Queer theory  to argue that the position of the follower provides a generative challenge to Western models of the ‘couple’ and to notions of love, subjectivity and desire as well as working towards new formulations of the structures of looking in audiovisual practices. I will be referring to Ettinger’s work on Eurydice and Tim Dean’s recent work on intimacy.  Finally, I hope to discuss and use my model of Eurydice as representing  the structural position of  ‘follower’, to contribute to debates around feminist cinematic techniques that can produce specific kinds of spectatorial experience as well as generating a feminist/queer intervention into psychoanalysis.

Anita Klujber
“Eurydice as Kore”: Queen of the Underword – a Mythic Geography of Poetic Language

Eurydice is identified with Kore, the unnameable aspect of Persephone, in a poem by the Hungarian poet Zsuzsa Beney. The two mythic heroines blend mysteriously in poems by Osip Mandelstam. In Rilke’s poetic world, Eurydice (not named), ‘was already root’ even before Orpheus turned round, while Orpheus’s song ‘sprang into life’ in the form of a tree, as if enacting the name of Proserpine (the Roman Persephone) that is derived from the word ‘proserpere’, ‘to shoot forth’. In this poetic context, tree and root, song and the inexpressible, word and the underword, are inseparable as Persephone / Kore and Eurydice are in the works of other poets.

This presentation explores the creative process in relation to the paradox of poetic language through literary references to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in works by Rainer Maria Rilke, Osip Mandelstam, Valery Bryusov, Zsuzsa Beney, and Maurice Blanchot. I will focus on the poetic convergence of Eurydice and Persephone / Kore to shed new light on the enigmatic turning point of Orpheus’s journey. Poems by Emily Dickinson and Tennyson will be my hermeneutic guide in this exploration of the underworld of the mind and its relation to the underword region of poetic language.

Carol Leader
Eurydice: Dying to Live

In this talk Jungian analyst and psychotherapist Carol Leader will explore the myth of Eurydice in relation to twenty-first-century Jungian and psychoanalytic clinical thinking and practice. She will examine the timeless ‘mythological space’ of the consulting room, setting this alongside Freud’s characteristics of the unconscious, Jung’s references to Eurydice and Winnicott’s distinction between fantasy and ‘fantasying’. She will argue that while much of twentieth-century psychoanalytic thinking deals with the patient as an isolated ‘inner world’, that contemporary thinking recognizes the importance or the relationship between the inner and the outer life, between inner fantasy and actual events. In order to think about aspects of a patient, man or woman, who demonstrates aspects of a ‘Eurydice Complex’, we have to include their relationships with others. Is Eurydice’s silence eloquent or does she need to find a voice? Can Eurydice get a life even though she is seemingly dead? With reference to a twenty-first-century poem on Eurydice and examples from her clinical work, Carol will examine the importance of Eurydice dying and going to Hades in order to gain her own life.

Tom de Freston and Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Artist Tom de Freston and writer Kiran Millwood Hargrave present their collaborative, multimedia retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice.

OE is a transmedia retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice, combining film, painting, a graphic fiction, poetry and music. It is produced in collaboration with Mark Jones (film), Max Barton (music) and Jethro Cooke (music).

The story of Orpheus’s tragic quest into the underworld to rescue his true love Eurydice back from the dead is one that has haunted the western imagination for over 2,000 years through many tellings, re-tellings, appropriations and adaptations. In a unique coming-together of painting, film, poetry, music and criticism, OE explores the myth’s impact through a multimedia reconstruction of the story. Central to the project are themes of grief, madness and, above all, love.

The session will begin with a showing of the short film before moving on to a look at the content of the poetic graphic novel and a wider discussion of the project.

Ghost Jam
Beyond Eurydice

Where is Eurydice? Eurydice, as the originating myths have it, is almost synonymous with the idea of the beyond. What we thought we held and held us turns out to have a completely separate and ungraspable destiny. Crucially, she is beyond Orpheus, in the sense that she is the disembodied embodiment of his impossible – she, as an image, is what drives his desire to get where his desire cannot get to, but she in herself may no longer have anything to do with that desire. As the (missing) substance of Orpheus’ song, she becomes her own beyond, one by no means owned by her; one could think of her, as such, as woven into the fabric of art and music and drama and poetry, but equally one could imagine her as the bringer of dissolution and disjunction. From the space where the originary myth-tellers placed her, she keeps opening up or receiving new beyonds, new possibilities of interpretation and action. How could one begin to imagine such a being, one composed solely of what is beyond it, both passive and completely outwardly engaged? Ghost Jam will attempt to explore and build on such questions.

Ghost Jam is a changing group of writers and artists who come together to explore collaboratively the expressive possibilities contained in certain themes, texts, formal propositions and objects (a particular combination of individuals may be the incentive in itself) through voice, movement, music, sound, film and any other means available. In each performance, structure and improvisation go hand in hand. The performers in this new incarnation will include poets Lyndon Davies, Julia Lewis, Nia Davies, Steven Hitchins and Scott Thurston; poet and movement-artist Camilla Nelson, visual artist Penny Hallas, and voice-artist Steve Boyland.